Eye cancer, also called ocular cancer, is a comprehensive disease, but it is also a relatively unknown and misunderstood problem. The majority of people are either unaware or know little information about its symptoms, causes, effects, or existence. Since spreading awareness is crucial to combating any problem, in this post, we are sharing with you a compilation of facts about eye cancer.
What Is Eye Cancer? — Understanding the Basics
To start, here is the scientific definition of the disease: Eye cancer is the development of a tumor as a result of an uncontrollable massing of cells in any area of the eye(s).
Here are some important pointers about eye cancer, especially in India where the disease has become more prevalent through the years:
- Statistics. In every 5000 cases of ocular cancer occurring worldwide, around 1000 of them affect people in India, according to the Centre for Sight. As such, eye cancer is a comprehensive disease in India. The age group most susceptible to the disease is between 0 to 6 years, meaning children are the most prone to the many types of eye cancer, which we will discuss later on. However, though the disease is more common in children, the diagnosis is often delayed since eye cancer is slow-growing and presents little to no symptoms early on.
- Types of eye cancer. The range of symptoms observed in a patient with eye cancer can vary depending on the type of cancer diagnosed. Based on the cancer’s origin, doctors classify it into two main types: primary and secondary eye cancer. As the name implies, secondary intraocular cancers stem from another part of the body, eventually spreading to the eyes. Primary intraocular cancers, on the other hand, are those that originated in the eye. Retinoblastoma and intraocular melanoma are the most common eye cancers in the world.
- Causes. The exact causes behind the development of ocular cancers, especially primary intraocular malignancies like retinoblastoma or melanoma, are not fully understood. A number of reasons ranging from genetics to excessive exposure to UV radiations show the strongest evidence as potential causes of eye cancers. Additional risk factors, such as the color of the iris and excessive eye strain, may also contribute to the development of intraocular melanoma.
- Symptoms. The symptoms of eye cancer in adults and children differ. In adults, some of the most common indicators include blurred vision, loss of peripheral vision, changes in the color of the iris, sagging or bulging eyes, redness in the eye, and pain. In the case of young boys and girls, misaligned or cross eyes, presence of glaucoma, whitened pupil(s), and severe pain in the eye are some of the most noted symptoms.
- Treatment. There are three conventional ways to treat ocular cancers: Through surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. The most appropriate treatment among these options will depend on various factors, including the specific type of cancer, size of the tumor, severity of the disease, as well as the age, fitness level, and general health of the patient.
Let’s continue exploring the facts around eye cancer.
Breast cancer and lung cancer are the most common causes of metastatic cancer in the eye
As stated earlier, primary eye cancer is a malignancy that begins in the eye, while cancer that metastasizes or spreads from other areas of the body to the eye is called secondary eye cancer or metastatic cancer. Although the latter is the more common form of intraocular cancer in adults, the disease can remain undetected for years, until the patient begins experiencing vision problems or when their eyes start to push forward. Ocular or eye metastases are typically due to breast cancer in women and lung cancer in men. Less common origin sites include the thyroid, kidney, and prostate.
Retinoblastoma mostly affects children younger than 6 years old, but it can also affect adult men and women
As its name suggests, retinoblastoma originates in the retina, which is the thin layer of nerve tissue coating the back of the eyes, allowing us to see. Retinoblasts are the retina’s immature cells, which multiply during our infant or toddler years to form the retina. Retinoblastoma affects the growth rate of these cells and causes them to multiply too fast, leading to problems with the development of the retina. The good news, however, is that most cases are curable. Adult-onset retinoblastoma, on the other hand, is rarer and more challenging to treat, though it is possible to address the disease and help adult patients enter remission.
Primary eye cancer is one of the rarest cancers in the world
Ocular melanoma is an uncommon form of cancer with an incidence rate of five per one million adults. In most cases, it arises in a part of the eye called the uveal tract. Depending on the cancer’s location and the size of the tumor, it may or may not present symptoms.
Eye cancer is the only life-threatening ocular disease
Out of all eye disorders and diseases, eye cancer is the only one that can lead to premature death. Fortunately, the five-year relative survival rate for patients with eye cancer is 80 percent if a doctor catches it early.
Occupational hazards may contribute to the development of eye cancer
Doctors recommend the use of protective eyewear to anyone working in a welding facility or chemical plant, as exposure to certain substances and particles may cause eye cancer. Eating a nutritious diet, wearing a brimmed hat, and protecting your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses are other preventive measures that may lower your risk of eye cancer.
There are alternative treatments for eye cancer
If a patient prefers a less traditional route and opts for alternative eye cancer treatments at New Hope Unlimited, the advantages include reduced pain, no toxic chemicals in the body, targeted therapy that safeguards healthy cells, and improved quality of life, among several other benefits.
Cancer is a journey no one expects to take. New Hope Unlimited is here to light your path toward remission. Call us today at 480-666-1403 or contact us online to schedule an appointment and learn more about our holistic approach to treating eye cancer.